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Feb 29, 2008

Reading RSS Feeds On Your Blackberry

I really haven't been all that into RSS personally until recently. Sure, I have my Google Reader set up with a ton of RSS subscriptions, but I rarely went through it. It isn't that I don't like RSS honestly. I think it is a great idea! I mean instead of having to go out to all of your favorite sites to look for updates, you go to your reader, and check for updates all in one place. I once even did a blog post about it here (What is RSS?).

Well since I got my Blackberry things have changed. I installed an RSS reader on my Blackberry pearl, and I find myself reading it all the time. For instance, I went to get my hair cut last night. All the Great Clips had to read were chick magazines like Cosmopolitan, inTouch, and People. I decided I would forgo the scandal rags, and pull out my Blackberry Pearl to catch up on some of my favorite blogs like Ask The Admin, Geeks Are Sexy, Joe Tech, Android Guys, etc. It really made the time go fast while I was waiting to get my ears lowered a bit.

RSS Subscribe Bauer-PowerSince I am in the Blackberry RSS spirit, I thought I would mention a couple of RSS Readers for your Blackberry. The first one, which is the one I am using, is called Viigo. I like Viigo because it allowed me to import all of my RSS subscriptions from Google Reader online from my computer. That was really important, because although I love my Pearl, I don't like typing on it if I don't have to.

Another RSS reader that I just found out about yesterday is called Litefeeds. This is taken directly from Blackberry Freaks:

"Litefeeds is a custom RSS browser for your blackberry device, You can synchronize with your online subscriptions, You can view online full articles images, secure feeds. You can send emails, alerts, blog posts, bookmarks. Optimized for mobile use (cached, compressed)."



If you are a Bloglines user, you are in luck! There is a reader for Blackberry called Berry Bloglines that specifically uses your Bloglines account. You can subscribe via RSS all day long to your Bloglines, then read them later on your Blackberry.

Like for the computer, there are tons of readers for your Blackberry, or other mobile device. Which one(s) do you use? If you don't have a Blackberry, and have a different PDA like the iPhone, Windows Mobile, or Palm, what reader do you use? Let me know in the comments.

By the way, since we are talking about RSS subscriptions, please feel free to subscribe to my RSS feed here: (Subscribe to Bauer-Power)

Feb 28, 2008

Creating Email Web Forms On The Easy

Yesterday one of my readers had a problem leaving a comment on one of my posts. The problem was caused because I was using a feature of Blogger Draft to write a post then have it auto publish at a specified time. The problem with that is that it didn't automatically create a unique URL, and thus caused my Intense Debate comments to break for that post.

Well, this reader was obviously frustrated by this error and wanted to let me know about it so I could fix it. He looked around my site for a place to email me, but I never published my email (I am not a fan of spam). He eventually found a working comments section and that is how he notified me. He was right though, so I went ahead and made a Contact Me section. To do it, and to prevent getting spammed, I decided to use a web form. I wanted some protection so I created my form using EmailMe Form. They give you protection by adding a captcha at the bottom, and also hiding your personal email address. Also, when you go get emails, they record the IP address of whoever sent the message using your form.

email web formCheck mine out here: (Contact Me)

I put mine in a frame because my blog's template doesn't handle web forms well. It makes all the fields transparent. For your site, you can most likely create the form and embed it directly into the site.

Do you have a blog or a website? How do you have users contact you for feedback? Let me know in the comments.

By the way, I placed a link to the Contact Me page in my links section on the side bar.

Feb 27, 2008

Converting Media Formats Like A Pro

I am always in the market for conversion software. I can't count on one hand how many times I have had to convert one file format into another for various tasks. I write about it all the time. For my old Samsung phone I had to convert MP3 files to 3GP for instance.

I just found a new cool tool that does some sweet media converting. Specifically audio and video file formats. Okay, maybe it's not all that new, but it's new to me and to you also if you have never heard of it!

This tool is called simply MediaCoder. Here is a quick break down of it's features:

  • mediacoder free audio video transcoderConvert to and from many audio and video compression formats and re-multiplex into various container formats in batches
  • Full control over transcoding parameters, you can learn about audio/video encoding and play with various codecs
  • Strong decoding capability for partial or corrupted contents
  • Simplified UI for popular mobile devices (e.g. PSP, iPhone/iPod)
  • Fully standalone, no dependance on system codecs/splitters
  • Extension (scripting language) infrastructure to expand user interfaces and improve user experience


Another thing I convert all the time is video files. Sometimes Youtube doesn't agree with my media format, or I want to transfer something over to my Tivo, but it only reades MPEG-1 format. These are the cases when I need something that convert from one format (IE WMV to MPG, or AVI to MPG or MPG to AVI, you get the point).

Here is a list of the formats it supports:



What do you use transcoders for? Do you know of another free application that does something similar? Do you know of a better one? Let me know in the comments.

Feb 26, 2008

Saving Your Waterlogged PDA/Phone

At my last company we had this one lady who shall remain nameless that used to drop her PDA cell phone in the toilet every other month. Funny, it always happened when we were issuing newer models of cell phones.

A few months back my buddy Karl talked about one method of saving your PDA phone on Ask The Admin. In his method, you remove your battery, and dry off your phone and battery with a towel, then place both in a bag of rice. You then leave the bag of rice complete with phone in sunlight, or another warm/dry place for about 24 hours. (Karl, if you are reading this, can you post a link to your article in the comments? I couldn't find it). I haven't tried his method so I can't comment on how well it works or doesn't work. If you have tried it let me know.

If you don't want to go the rice route, I found this really cool video on Howcast that tells you how to save your PDA phone without rice. All you need it a blow dryer, a Tupperware container, a towel and two silica gel packs. Here is the video:




If you try out this tip let me know in the comments. I want to know if it works or not.

Feb 25, 2008

RAM Dumping to Hack Encrypted Hard Drives

I read a blog post from Wired last Friday about a Princeton University experiment where they were able to hack into encrypted laptops by dumping the encryption key from RAM on the target computer. I was going to write about it today, and input my two cents, but my buddy Karl over at Ask The Admin beat me to it. So as not to do double work, I will re-post what he had to say on it, then proceed with my two cents. Before I do though, I wanted to point out that the Princeton experiment was conducted on machines protected by Bitlocker, FileVault, Truecrypt and DM-Crypt. Here is what Karl had to say:

Have you seen this video yet? Even my mom has seen it but how many of you are actually using disk encryption? Really that many??


What kind of illegal or illicit shit are you into?





And you think your data warrants a torrent of hackers going after YOUR lappie?

No we kid, we kid, of course AtA is all about privacy and protecting that (no matter if you are a shaddy admin or the pot dealer across the way). So have two tips to lock your laptop down. Harden that bitch so this doesn't happen to you!


  • Disable usb booting from bios. So no one can boot to a live OS and harvest your shiznit.
  • Enter a bios password for the hard drive and on boot. So no one can get in to change your options or even get a crack at your ram.



Thats it - that simple. Don't say we never done nothing for ya. What do you guys do to lock down your systems from these kinds of attacks? Do you use encryption? [Via Hackaday Via Princeton]


full hard drive encryption hack

Karl's method of protection is about as good as you can do, however using the trick mention, you can remove the RAM and stick it in another computer, so disabling the USB boot option won't help. Setting the BIOS password is nice too, but anyone performing this hack will also most likely know about the CMOS battery/jumper trick to reset BIOS back to default.

The big problem I have with this hack though is the lack of time you have to do it. If someone locks their computer and walks away, then you have a lot of time to do it. You can snatch the laptop, take it home and perform the hack (Hopefully they have plenty of juice in their battery). If someone powers down their laptop before they walk away, now you have to race the clock. In the video they said that freezing the RAM with the air duster does buy you an additional 10 minutes. Lets double that for the sake of argument. Now you have 20 minutes where the bits in RAM have little degradation, you still have to snatch the laptop and get to a secluded place to do the hack. How long does it take to get to said secluded place? It just doesn't seem that plausible to me that people will be doing this hack because of the sheer pain in the arse of it.

I think the law of laziness applies here just like anything else. If bad guys really want your shit they will get it. Nothing has changed there. The good news is that 9 times out of 10 if your laptop is harder than the next guy's to hack, then they will leave your stuff alone and get the next guys.

What's your take on the subject? Hit me up in the comments!

Feb 23, 2008

Why is Windows Vista Slower Than Windows XP?

Many people are taking the leap and upgrading their pc operating system from Windows XP to Windows Vista, only to be very disappointed by the distinct slow down in performance.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Windows Vista requires twice the computing power and resources to operate at a performance level similar to that of Windows XP. So what can you do to improve this?

Firstly, it may be worth considering if you need to have all of the Vista bells and whistles that are turned on by default. The Aero interface in particular, although it looks pretty, requires considerable resources and it s worthwhile turning it off to see how much general performance improves. In addition many computers from manufacturers such as IBM come with a whole suite of ancillary support programs which you may not really need, such as firewall programs, anti virus programs, performance monitor programs, etcetera. Third party firewall programs in particular can use up a lot of resources. If you've been happy with the built in Windows Firewall, then consider turning off any third party ones.

Windows Vista SucksThe other two areas where a significant improvement can be made is by upgrading the amount of system ram or memory, and utilizing a ready boost compatible flash drive or flash card.

Upgrading system memory is very straight forward. Manufacturers like Kingston make third party ram to the specifications of the big OEM s like IBM, HP, Dell, Acer, Apple and others so it s not necessary to pay hefty prices to obtain a 100 compatible ram upgrade. Kingston also guarantee their memory for life so even if the reseller you purchased it from closes up ship you can go back to Kingston for any warranty related issues.

Upgrading system memory as high as your budget will allow is recommended, although anything higher than 4GB with the 32 bit version of Windows Vista is pointless, as it will generally only recognize around 3.5GB of the installed memory. The 64 bit version of Vista, however, can recognize over 8GB of memory, although most computers don t yet support this.

To take advantage of ready boost, simply plug in a compatible USB drive or flash card into your computer, then follow the steps to configure it using the built in wizard. Once configured, ready boost serves as an additional memory cache which can significantly improve performance by reserving part of the flash drive/card for memory management.

If you are not certain about whether your pc can be upgraded with more system memory, there are many websites which make this task relatively simple to figure out. Using your favourite search engine, type in your computer brand and model followed by the words memory upgrade and this should give you somewhere to start. Alternatively, if you still have your user manual this should contain specifications about how many memory slots you have, the maximum memory capacity your pc can handle, and the type of memory that is compatible.

To check your currently installed memory for Windows: Right mouse click on the My Computer icon and select Properties. The total memory is calculated and displayed under the General tab in the system properties window. For Mac: Click About This Mac or About This Computer from the Apple menu. (Far top left of the screen). This will provide information about your Mac s total memory (built in memory plus DIMMs installed). By: Rod Bland

Author Resource:-> Rod Bland is the owner of RamCity, a specialist RAM Upgrade supplier shipping directly from Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. http://www.ramcity.co.nz. Article From Hot Site Content

Feb 21, 2008

Looking for an audio editor? Look no further!

One thing I look for in a phone is the ability to play MP3's as ring tones. Wanna know why? Because I don't like paying my cell phone carrier for ringtones! That and I don't like the annoying stock tones that come with the phone! I like my phone to be an expression of me, not Verizon!

My last phone could play MP3's, but not use them as ring tone. I wrote about how I got around that a while back. My new phone, the Blackberry Pearl isn't as tricky. It straight up plays MP3's as ring tones and doesn't give me any lip about it! The only problem, for me anyway, with using an MP3 as a ring tone is that I usually only let my phone ring for a second or two before I answer it. Since that is the case, I don't want the whole song, I only need a small part of the song. I also don't want to take up a lot of room on my phone either. To solve these problems one needs an audio editor that can trim the MP3 down a bit.

Audacity Audio EditorI used to use Nero's Wave Editor which works great, but you have to buy it. You all know me and what a cheap skate I am. Now I use Audacity which is a free open source audio file editor that can do all sorts of cools stuff, including, but not limited to, making your own ring tones! In fact, if you have never heard of it before, here is a list of some of it's features:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more! See the complete list of features.


What's more is that there is a port of Audacity for Linux, Mac and Windows! No matter what your machine is running, you can use Audacity!

If you have been looking for something to trim your music files, or something to spruce them up a bit, and maybe add some cool effects, then you should definitely check out Audacity.

Feb 20, 2008

Backup Retention Policies

I am pretty much writing this to vent a little bit. Apparently my company is going through some litigation and since I am the backup admin I have been asked to recover a number of emails going back to 2003 for employees that no longer work for us.

At my last company they had a pretty cool email retention policy. They didn't keep emails older than six months, and they did not allow PST archives. They put that out because of the Microsoft anti-trust suit a few years back where Microsoft was subpoenaed for their old emails, and had them used against them in the suit. Some damning emails from top level executives surfaced saying how they were going to crush the competition, and they were going to drive them out of business. You know stuff like that.

LTO3 Backup TapeBy only retaining emails for 6 months, when you get subpoenaed, you can simply say that your policy is not to keep emails older than 6 months. It makes things easier from sysadmin standpoint, and it makes things easier for a legal standpoint.

Well my current company's policy isn't that. We have a much broader retention policy, so now I am stuck going through our tape inventory at our off site holding facilities trying to figure out what we have. This isn't going to be pretty ladies and gentlemen!

What kind of retention policy do you have? Have you ever had to do something similar? Let me know in the comments. I am curious as all hell.

Feb 19, 2008

All Software is Free

From time to time, I mention software that is commercial software that you have to pay for. Sure in most cases there is a free or open source solution that you can use instead of the pay-ware version, but that isn't always an option. If this is the case, what option do you have if you are a thrifty guy, or are on a limited budget?

Arrgghhh me hearty! You hoist the Jolly Roger and go pirating matey!

You can do a search on the internet for bit torrent sites on the internet like The Pirate Bay, or Torrent Spy, but I prefer a quicker method. There are two sites that I recommend for this purpose 9Down, and Nsane Down. Both sites have archives of both freeware and pirated software complete with cracks and patches.

Be careful using such software though, because in many countries the use of such material is illegal and you can find yourself with two hots and a cot in the local slammer.

Discalimer: I don't know the legal aspect of posting this. I am against software piracy and I have NOT installed A SINGLE pirated software on my computer. I have paid for every software I use.

Feb 15, 2008

Hard To Wake Up? You Need A Water Gun Alarm Clock

I am a very deep sleeper. I find it extremely hard to wake up in the mornings. I have a special morning ritual that I have been doing for some time that helps me out. I will set my alarm to go off about an hour before I really have to get up. When it goes off I go out to the living room and set an alarm on the microwave to go off every 15 minutes, then I go and sleep on the recliner. The idea is that since I am getting woken up every 15 minutes, and can't ever get too comfortable and I will eventually wake up in time. Most of the time it works.

That may sound a bit drastic. You might ask me, "Why don't you just set your clock ahead?" Well, I tried that, and I end up waking up, doing the math in my head to figure out what time it really is, then I go back to sleep thinking I have ten more minutes. Nope, it just doesn't work for me.

This solution from Howcast may be the thing I am looking for. It is a modded alarm clock that sprays water in your face when the alarm goes off. Check it out:



The watergun trick may be a bit much, even by my standards. It looks like it would sure do the trick though. Do you find it hard to wake up in the morning? What tricks do you do to get out of bed? Let me know in the comments.

Feb 14, 2008

Got Myself a Blackberry Pearl

I just got a promotion at the beginning of the year at my day job. One of the perks as some may call it, or a huge burden as others would, is that I get a company Blackberry phone. Well I just got it yesterday. Actually, that is not true, I got it the day before yesterday, but I couldn't play with it because I was in training all day. That is neither here nor there.

Anyway, yesterday was the first day I really got to play with it, and so far I think it is probably the best PDA phone I have ever had. I have had a Palm Treo 650, a Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard), and a Nokia 9300. All of my previous phones had their ups and downs. The one I disliked the most was the Palm. What a piece of junk phone that was! I finally gave that one up after too many times of it freezing up when I had an incoming call so I couldn't answer it. The Cingular 8125 was okay, but like the Treo it is too bulky, and I always felt like a nerd carrying a big piece of hardware like that around. The Nokia 9300 worked fine PDA wise as well, but there weren't a whole lot of applications for it, and the design made it look clunky. The Pearl on the other hand is nice and small like a regular phone, and of course comes with the stability of Blackberry.

Since yesterday was my first real day playing with it, I did what any other guy with a new toy does. I pimped it out! The first thing I did was cropped down some MP3's to use as ring tones, and transferred them over using the Blackberry Desktop software. After that I put a really sweet skin on it from GemBlock.com. If you haven't heard of GemBlock.com, it is a place to find free themes and other cool stuff for your Blackberry. Finally I created my own wallpaper. Have you seen Casino Royale? You know the MI6 wallpaper 'M' used on her computers? I found that online, and cropped it down for my blackberry. If you want to make your own Pearl wallpaper, the dimensions are 240w x 260h. Here is my wallpaper if you are a James Bond fan like me and want to put it on your Pearl:

James Bond MI6 Blackberry Wallpaper

Do you know of other places to get cool free themes, tones, wallpapers, apps or anything else just plain cool for Blackberry? Hit me up in the comments!

Feb 11, 2008

Windows Defender Won't Update. Now What?

For a long time we were using Spybot Search & Destroy at my company to do simple spyware cleanups. I love Spybot, and have been using it for quite a long time. We stopped using it because we read the fine print of their license agreement which says that if you want to use Spybot in a commercial organization, you have to buy their corporate version. We are too cheap to do that, so we removed it from all of our workstations.

We opted for Windows Defender, which in my opinion isn't the greatest anti-spyware program in the world, but it does beat a sharp stick in the eye. The biggest problem with Windows Defender in my opinion is that updating it is a crap shoot. So many times have I installed it, then tried to update it only for it to tell me that no update is available. Are you trying to tell me that there have been no updates since 2006? Bull Shit!

spywareI decided to find out if there was a way to manually update the definition files of Windows Defender, and I have good news. There is a way, and it seems to work pretty good. According to this Microsoft KB, you can download a tool called mpas-fe.exe that will download and extract the latest definitions for Windows Defender in a jiffy. I made it available on Mediafire so you wouldn't have to go through the genuine advantage horse hockey. If you feel more comfortable downloading it from Microsoft you can do it here: (Download From Microsoft).

If you are running Vista, you have to right click on it and Run As administrator. For Windows XP, as long as you are an administrator you can just run it. When you do run it, you will see an extraction dialog box flash for a split second then go away. When it goes away, open Windows Defender and check the definitions date. You should now have the latest version.

What Anti-spyware software does your company use? Let me know in the comments.

Feb 10, 2008

Open Source Alternative to Quicken or Money

Tax season is upon us again, and I don’t know about you, but that kind of gets me thinking about my finances a bit. If you are like me, perhaps you are looking to find a better way to manage your finances, accounts and other items a little better. Maybe you just want to see where all of your dollars are going, or maybe you’re a small business owner looking to keep track of the books.


Whatever your reason, you may be in the market for some kind of accounting software. If you are like my wife, you probably thought about going out and getting something from the big dogs like Intuit’s Quicken, or Microsoft Money. Not this guy, I’m not going down the pay-ware super highway unless I am forced to at gun point.


money manager, free alternative to quickenI found an open source accounting program that has ports for Windows, and Linux, and of course, it is free. Money Manager Ex is the name of the software. It has a real basic interface, so you won’t get lost in all of the bells and whistles that you might find in their pay-ware counterparts.


Some of the things it can do are manage all of your bank accounts, your stocks, keep track of your assets, budgeting, and any repeating transactions you may have, along with a myriad of reporting tools. A full list of features can be found here.



If you have been looking to take back control of your finances, or just looking for a better way of doing it, then Money Manger Ex might just be the solution you have been looking for

Feb 9, 2008

Read and Write Access to Linux File Systems From Windows

I love Linux! My distro of choice is Ubuntu. I have been using Ubuntu pretty actively for the last three years. However, no matter how hard I try I can't remove Windows from my life. That is because my wife is an avid Windows user. I have tried and tried to convert her, but the fact is she is too lazy to learn a new operating system.

So picture this scenario; You have a couple of windows machines and one of them starts blue screening like crazy. You decide after hours of troubleshooting to re-image. You want to back up the files so you decide to take the hard drive out, put it in another Windows box using your IDE to USB adapter. No big deal right? You now have access to all of your files on your other Windows box.

What if you're like me, and one of your computer's is running on Ubuntu? If your Windows box crashes, you can connect the drive, and mount it in Linux because most Linux distros now days have NTFS-3G installed which is a driver to read and write to NTFS from Linux.

Now what if your Ubuntu box decided to go into a kernel panic, or some other problem keeping it from booting? How are you going to attach it to Windows using your IDE to USB? Windows doesn't natively understand other file systems other than FAT or NTFS.

ext2, ext3 on windowsWhat you need is a driver that will tell Windows how to read Linux file systems. Now, there are quite a few Linux file systems out there including ReiserFS, JFS, EXT2, and EXT3 to name a few. I would argue that the most widely used in the Linux world are EXT2 and EXT3. If your Linux distro is formatted with one of those two you are in luck!

There is a program called EXT2 IFS for Windows, or EXT2 Installable File System. It is a driver that you install on Windows that will let Windows read and write to partitions or drives formatted using EXT2 or EXT3 file systems.

Here is a list of features from the website:

  • Supports Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista [new].
  • Supports both the 32 bit x86 and the 64 bit x64 platform [new].
  • Includes drivers with a digital signature for Windows Vista x64 [new].
  • All operations you would expect: Reading and writing files, listing directories, creating, renaming, moving and deleting files or directories, querying and modifying the volume's label.
  • UTF-8 encoding [new].
  • Files larger than 2 GBytes. (Please read the FAQ section, too.)
  • Supports hash indexed (htree) directories (utilizes the so-called dir_index feature of Ext3) [new].
  • Full plug-n-play functionality. When a drive is removed, the corresponding drive letter is deleted [new].
  • Supports use of the Windows mountvol utility to create or delete drive letters for Ext2 volumes [new] (except on Windows NT 4.0). This is useful for scripts. (Please read the FAQ section, too.)
  • A global read-only option is provided [new].
  • File names that start with a dot "." character are treated as hidden [new].
  • Supports GPT disks if the Windows version used also does [new].
  • Paging files are supported. (A paging file is a file "pagefile.sys", which Windows swaps virtual memory to.) Users may create paging files at NT's control panel at Ext2 volumes.
  • Specific functions of the I/O subsystem of NT: Byte range locks, notification of changes of directories, oplocks (which are required by the NT LAN manager for sharing files via SMB).


Now I have a question for you. Do you know of a similar program that will allow Windows to read and write to HSF file systems used on Macs? The reason I asked is I had a friend with a scenario similar to the one above, except using Linux, his graphic artist wife uses a Mac. He had tried to mount the hard drive in his Windows box with no joy. I was able to help them out with my IDE to USB adapter and connecting the Mac hard drive to his Mac iBook. If he didn't have the iBook also, he would have been screwed. Do you know of such software? Let me know in the comments.

Feb 8, 2008

Definition of Irony: Anti virus Company Gets Hacked

I couldn't believe it when I read it! According to a recent post on IT Business Edge's Headline Watch, an Indian anti virus company called AVsoft Technologies, makers of SmartCop, had one of their download servers hacked and made to distribute a variant of the Virut virus.

Doing a search for SmartCop on Google turns up the company's website, S-Cop.com, but if you click on the link you get this lovely block page from Google to protect your curious ass from malicious code on the company's servers:




s-cop blocked

Infoworld also reported on this unusually funny event. This is taken from InfoWorld:

Owned, pwnedThe download section of AvSoft's S-cop Web site hosts the malicious code, according to Roger Thompson, chief research officer with security vendor AVG. "They let one of their pages get hit by an iFrame injection," he said. "It shows that anyone can be a victim.... It's hard to protect Web servers properly."

The technique used on the site has been seen in thousands of similar hacks over the past few months. The attackers open an invisible iFrame Window within the victim's browser, which redirects the client to another server. That server, in turn, launches attack code that attempts to install malicious software on the victim's computer. Read the full story here (Infoworld Story).


This just goes to show you that nobody is safe on the internet, not even a supposed security software company. It also shows you the importance of regularly patching your systems to prevent such attacks. It's a dangerous world out there on the internets people, and there are dangerous guys looking for easy prey. Don't let your systems be the easy target.

Feb 7, 2008

New Version of TrueCrypt Out! Now With Full Hard Drive Encryption!

You all know of my love for TrueCrypt right? I mean, this is the software that caused some controversy a couple of months back between me and the nice people over at IronKey. Not to worry, I finally conceded in that debacle, but that doesn't change my opinion that TrueCrypt is one of the most awesome free encryption programs ever made.

I first discovered TrueCrypt back at my last company when I learned that the Network Security Manager was beta testing full hard drive encryption for company laptops. The program he was using costs upwards of $250 per license. I knew I could probably find something just as good for free. That is when I found TrueCrypt. Of course, at that time it didn't do full hard drive encryption (operating system and all), but it was still pretty cool. I liked the idea that I could put all of my porn...errr...important files on a fully encrypted USB stick, and not worry about it getting into the wrong hands.

TrueCrypt 5.0That has all changed in the new version (Now version 5.0). They have now introduced full hard drive encryption! Before, I used CompuSec for that, but one draw back is that in order to encrypt the drive, you had to reboot and let the encryption work over night, and during that time you couldn't use your machine. TrueCrypt's full hard drive encryption doesn't do that. It will encrypt in the background while you work!

Here is a full list of the new features:

New features:
  • Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts). For more information, see the chapter System Encryption in the documentation. (Windows Vista/XP/2003)

  • Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)

  • Mac OS X version

  • Graphical user interface for the Linux version of TrueCrypt

  • XTS mode of operation, which was designed by Phillip Rogaway in 2003 and which was recently approved as the IEEE 1619 standard for cryptographic protection of data on block-oriented storage devices. XTS is faster and more secure than LRW mode (for more information on XTS mode, see the section Modes of Operation in the documentation).

    Note: New volumes created by this version of TrueCrypt can be encrypted only in XTS mode. However, volumes created by previous versions of TrueCrypt can still be mounted using this version of TrueCrypt.

  • SHA-512 hash algorithm (replacing SHA-1, which is no longer available when creating new volumes).

    Note: To re-encrypt the header of an existing volume with a header key derived using HMAC-SHA-512 (PRF), select 'Volumes' > 'Set Header Key Derivation Algorithm'.


Improvements, bug fixes, and security enhancements:

  • The Linux version of TrueCrypt has been redesigned so that it will no longer be affected by changes to the Linux kernel (kernel upgrades/updates).

  • Many other minor improvements, bug fixes, and security enhancements. (Windows and Linux)


Pretty cool stuff huh? If you are currently using TrueCrypt, check out this new version. If you have never heard of it before, you have got to check it out. There has never been a better time!

Feb 5, 2008

I don't know why I didn't think of it before! Picasa for Image Hosting

A few months ago I ranted about free file hosting on FileDen and I said that I was switching over to Photobucket because they offered more free bandwidth for hot linking pictures. Well, about a week or two ago I had the same problem with photobucket. Apparently 25GB gets used up quickly when you get between 700 to 1000 visitors a day like Bauer-Power.

Well my wife spends about three hours a night fiddling with Picasa, Google's free photo editor and organizer. When she is done playing with them she uploads them to her Picasa album online. Well today I decided to check it out. I mean, I have a Google account, I might as well log into Picasa and take a look see.

picasa logoLow and behold I found that I already have albums because of all the images I upload to blogger. All of those images are also hosted on Picasa. Whats more is that any image I upload, they give you a link to hot link it on other sites! Even better is that since they are owned by Google, there are now bandwidth restrictions!

Another cool thing about Picasa is that it not only hosts your photos for hot linking later, it will also combine them into slide shows that you can share with your friends. It is perfect for you MySpacer's.

Sometimes I amaze even myself at how naive I can be, and how blind I can be. My wife has been using this forever, and I am just figuring this out now. Oh well, better late than never.

If you are using Photobucket, or Fileden or some other crappy image hosting, check out Picasa.

Feb 4, 2008

Bauer-Power 1000ec Entrecard Extravaganza!

I have been a member of Entrecard for a while, and so far it has been pretty good to me. It brings in a steady amount of daily traffic which is a lot more than I can say for BlogRush when I tried it.

Anyway, I see tons of these Entrecard contest going around and I figured, what they hell! Why not get in on the action, and have a little fun with it too! For those of you not in the know, whenever you drop your card on someone's site you get some Entrecard credits (ec), you also get credits if someone buys advertising on your widget. These methods are all good, but the fastest and easiest way to earn credits is by winning these Entrecard contests!

So here is how I will run my contest:

The contest will run until the end of the month. Whoever has the most entries by that time will win. Here is how you enter:


  1. Leave a comment: worth 1 entry
  2. Advertise on my widget: worth 2 entries
  3. Blog about my contest with a link back: worth 5 entries
  4. Subscribe to my RSS feed: 10 entries
[EDIT: I removed the part about dropping your card to enter...That would just be too easy for you, and too hard for me to keep track of]

entrecard contest

Obviously I will know if you advertised on my widget, or leave a comment, but if you blog about my contest leave a comment with a hot link to your post. If you don't put a hot link (one I can click on) it will not count. If you subscribe to my RSS feed, then email me a screen shot of Bauer-Power on you RSS reader to EntrecardContest@Bauer-Power.net. If you don't know how to take a screen shot, read my post on free screen shot software here (Screenshot Software).

Good luck, and I hope to hear from you all soon!

BES 4.1 Upgrade Verdict: SUCCESS!

As I mentioned in some previous posts, my company was planning on upgrading our Blackberry Enterprise server from version 4.0.6 to version 4.1.4. I spent the better part of last month planning things out so that when it came down to the upgrade there would be minimal service interruptions.

Well, I stayed late at work Friday night to do the upgrade, and I am happy to report it was a huge success! There was one minor issue when upgrading the database. The issue was caused by a corrupt backup file of the database. when you do the upgrade, one of the steps is to upgrade the database to the new schema. During that process there is a check box asking you if you want to make a backup copy of the database before upgrading. Logically I left that checked, however that was the cause of my problem. I found that out because I checked the SQL logs in C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL\LOG. The log said the following:

blackberry
The backup data in 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL\Data\BESMgmtBKUP.bak' is incorrectly formatted. Backups cannot be appended, but existing backup sets may still be usable.


So what I decided to do because I had already made a full backup of the database before upgrading using SQL Enterprise Manger, was to rename BESMgmtBKUP.bak to BESMgmtBKUP.bak.old, then un-check the option to do the backup again before upgrade. After that, everything was right as rain.

Feb 3, 2008

An introduction to Computer Forensics

Computer Forensics is the process of investigating electronic devices or computer media for the purpose of discovering and analyzing available, deleted, or "hidden" information that may serve as useful evidence in supporting both claims and defenses of a legal matter as well as it can helpful when data have been accidentally deleted or lost due to hardware failure.

However, this is a very old technique but now it has been changed a lot because of technological advances, modern tools and software’s which makes Computer Forensics much easier for Computer Forensic Experts to find & restore more evidence/data faster and with more accuracy.

csi, computer, forensicsComputer forensics has change the way digital evidence is gathered & used as evidence of a crime & it is done using advanced techniques and technologies. A computer forensic expert uses these techniques to discover evidence from an electronic storage device for a possible crime. The data can be from any kind of electronic device like Pen drives, discs, tapes, handhelds, PDAs, memory stick, Emails, logs, hidden or deleted files etc.

Most of us think that deleting a file or history will remove it completely from the hard disk drive. In realty, it only removes the file from the location but the actual file still remains on your computer. It is easier to track what has been done on your computer but difficult to say by whom though it is possible to alter or delete the data completely from your storage device. It depends on computer forensic expert’s skills how well he can find and restore the data without any loss or change.

Computer forensics got widespread attention during the Enron scandal widely believed to be the biggest computer forensics investigation ever. Nowadays Computer Forensics & Electronic discovery is becoming a standard part of litigation of all types, especially large litigations involving corporate matters in which there are large amounts of data.

Computer forensics can be used to uncover a fraud, unauthorized use of a computer, violation of company policies, inadequate record keeping etc… by tracking e-mails, chat-history, files, tapes, sites people browse or any other form of electronic communications.

Data security is one of the biggest issues that the corporate world is facing now by publishing company’s internet/policies & consequences for violations, signing of compliance documents by employees. Businesses can initiate monitoring their own computer systems to avoid legal consequences in future. Making employees aware that monitoring software and Computer forensics personnel are available could prevent workers from wrong doing.

With the use of computers in everyday life and increasing amount of hi-tech crimes, Computer forensics is a growing niche in the litigation support sector. Unlike many jobs in information technology sector, chances are that computer forensics services will not be outsourced to other country because of the confidentiality of the data business which will not allow it to travel just to save a little cash.

By Kevin Cohen

Kevin Cohen is an international computer forensics consultant. He is president of Data Triage Technologies, LLC.(www.datatriage.com), a Computer forensics and Electronic discovery firm based in Los Angeles, California . Article Source: Uber Articles

Feb 2, 2008

Big Brother In America May Already Be Here

You often hear complaints in America about the extensive camera system used in the UK to keep an eye on its citizens. Some Americans feel that it is a blatant violation of privacy. Some Brits feel the same way too. Others think that if you aren't doing anything wrong in the first place you shouldn't worry about it. Either way, the idea of massive camera networks in the United States isn't a very popular idea. What if I told you that they are already here?

A local San Diego News Station, Channel 739, and NBC affiliate did a story Thirsday night on just that. According to the story, the average person is caught on camera 200 times a day! Everywhere you go, there are security cameras in use. Sure, in this case it isn't always the government, but your every action is still being recorded none the less.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the segment I recorded on my Tivo:



How do you feel about this? Did you realize how much of your life is being caught on tape? Do you foresee the U.S. Government getting in on this, and putting up systems like the ones in the U.K.? I want to here your take in the comments!

Feb 1, 2008

What Will Happen If The Pirate Bay Falls?

I just spent the last few minutes browsing the technology section of Digg and noticed that Bittorrents, and news of The Pirate Bay's pending prosecution have almost completely dominated the stories. It would certainly seem that the pirate community must be a little bit worried.

It got me thinking, what if the Pirate Bay was taken down for good? Kind of like Demonoid did, where will people turn? I think, if they are smart, they will turn to online streaming movie sites.

The Pirate BayI already mentioned two free streaming movie sites in previous posts, but just to be nice I will mention them again along with a couple of new ones. These sites will get you through the tough times if The Pirate Bay's ship sinks:

  1. Joox
  2. WizMovies
  3. QuickSilverScreen
  4. Movies-On-Demand

These sites always have some of the latest, still in the theater movies, as well as classics that are out on DVD. I always like to give you some links to their movies to give you a taste, so here you go:


Do you have any other free streaming movie sites you like? Do you have any Pirate Bay Alternatives you want to share? Hit me up in the comments!



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